Vinyl vs. Laminate Flooring
When it comes to hard surface flooring, homeowners everywhere love the majestic beauty of wood floors from traditional, rustic, and exotic wood to modern, industrial, and reclaimed designs. For new households and renovations that consume multiple rooms, purchasing hardwood flooring could potentially max out the design budget and set back your overall goals. To capture the realistic look and feel of hardwood floors in a more budget-friendly option, laminate flooring and vinyl flooring are two dependable surfaces worth exploring!
Although these flooring options have been described before as “faux wood flooring” or “fake hardwood flooring,” laminate and vinyl both feature technological innovation that make each an outstanding choice, respectively. What are the advantages and drawbacks of vinyl versus laminate? What is laminate? What is vinyl flooring?
No matter what type of non-wood hard surface you choose, ultimately, you need the style factor you desire to also handle everyday life in an active home. As the resilient flooring category has grown tremendously in recent years, these affordable and easy to install designs are challenging laminate as the savvy answer to hardwood aesthetic. Which one is the best for your home? Here are some points to help your purchase decision!
Vinyl Flooring Pros and Cons
Vinyl flooring is made from 100 percent plastic. This composition gives it superior resistance to moisture. When water sits on vinyl floors, even for extended periods of time, it won’t damage the surface. Vinyl’s water resistance makes it an excellent choice for rooms that are prone to moisture. For example, kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, and basements.
Some types of vinyl flooring are waterproof. For example, wood plastic and polymer composite (WPC) vinyl is waterproof. This is thanks to its composition of thermoplastics, wood flour, and calcium carbonate. It can be installed in areas where high moisture levels are present. Other waterproof vinyl floor options include stone plastic composite (SPC) vinyl, made from natural limestone powder, polyvinyl chloride, and stabilizer. It is also known as rigid core vinyl. You can install it over many types of flooring as a floating floor. When considering moisture exposure, in the vinyl vs laminate debate, vinyl flooring is a clear winner.
Historically, many people considered vinyl aesthetically inferior to laminate. Now, however, vinyl has come a long way when it comes to style choices. You can find vinyl flooring that mimics the look and feel of stone, tile, and even wood floors with realistic accuracy.
Vinyl has a longer lifespan and better overall durability than laminate. Don’t forget to factor in your budget, however. Vinyl flooring may be more expensive than laminate flooring, especially if you choose luxury vinyl flooring. Although it can last twice as long as laminate, vinyl flooring may involve a larger upfront investment.
Laminate Flooring Advantages In-Depth
Probably the most attractive thing about laminate flooring to homeowners is that it’s budget-friendly. Prices for this type of flooring start at around $.65/square foot, making it a popular choice for people on a budget. We have to mention that the cheaper laminate can run into problems later on so it’s recommended to get a higher quality type.
Easy to Install
All the DIY enthusiasts will like that laminate is one of the easier types of flooring to install. This can save money if you can’t afford to hire a pro to install it for you. You’ll need some tools to pull this off though, so we recommend reading some of our other articles on the topic. We have to note that this is only for people that know what they’re doing.
Sweeping and light mopping is an easy way to clean this type of flooring. It’s also more resistant to staining than other types of flooring which makes it easier to maintain with some laminate floor polish.
Good for Families
If you have kids then you’ll know how easy it is for things to break and get damaged. Luckily laminate is one of the most durable types of flooring there is. This means that it resists burns, moisture, fading, scratches, and stains.
It’s also hypoallergenic and 100% recyclable which is great for the environment.
Laminate Flooring Disadvantages In-Depth
1. Can’t be Refinished
Unlike some other types of flooring, laminate can’t be sanded down and refinished. Once it’s worn or cosmetic damage shows, your flooring will need to be replaced or repaired.
However, the lifespan of laminate flooring is 15-25 years on average. By the time enough wear is present to the point of notice, it may be time to replace your flooring anyway.
2. Not as quiet as carpet
Laminate flooring is quite rigid and installed directly on the subfloor, which means walking on laminate can be noisy underfoot. Whilst this can be an issue, it doesn’t have to be left unresolved.
One way to reduce noise produced by laminate flooring is using transitions between rooms. Using T profiles between rooms in arches or doorways, can reduce noise by taking pressure away from the mid section of the flooring area.
Underlay for Laminate Flooring
Another way to reduce noise is by using an appropriate underlay. Additionally, this adds a cushion between the subfloor and the laminate, creating a barrier between the flooring and subfloor, giving added comfort underfoot.
Underlay comes in variations depending on flooring type and needs. Check out our blog on underlay for wood, laminate and other hardwood flooring, to make sure you get the best underlay for your needs.
3. Can be a slippery surface
With busy family homes comes little footprints that are often followed by thud, thud, thud!
Laminate flooring may provide a slippery surface in certain rooms. This could lead to things such as falls, which means extra caution needs to be taken if you have little ones.
However, this caution can however be thrown to the wind, as there are preventative measures that can be taken to reduce slipping.
One thing to aid in slip prevention is AC ratings. A higher AC rating offers a textured surface giving better slip resistance so this will ease your mind when it comes to those little feet running in socks.
Underlay for Laminate Flooring
Another thing to consider is underlay, so even though we can’t fully rule out slips and falls, underlay can cushion these mishaps, reducing injury.
Vinyl vs Laminate: The Similarities
To summarize, vinyl is a better choice when you need water resistance, lifespan, and durability in your flooring. Meanwhile, laminate is preferable if you want a more stylish appearance, lower costs, and a comfortable feel underfoot.
Despite their differences, laminate and vinyl are also similar in a number of ways, including the following:
- Ease of Installation: If you need a foam underlayment for laminate or decide to install vinyl sheeting, you may need the help of professionals to complete the installation. However, both laminate and vinyl come in planks that lock together as a floating floor or almost any type of subfloor, giving you the option for an easy DIY installation with either flooring type.
- Maintenance: Vinyl and laminate are both easy to keep clean. Simply mop, vacuum, or sweep as needed. You don’t need special cleaning products or machinery to keep these floors in good shape.
- Eco-Friendliness: Both types of flooring have environmentally friendly options available for purchase. If you want to go “green”, look for vinyl with a LEED credit EQ4.3 for Low-Emitting Material or laminate that qualifies for LEED MR4c 4.1-4.2 (Recycled Content) status.
- Cost: Laminate is sometimes found at lower prices compared to vinyl. This depends on what type of style and features you’re looking for. With vinyl vs laminate, the price is relatively comparable. Both are considered to be two of the most budget-friendly flooring options.
- Decide your main criteria for your new floors. Is it more important to get waterproof flooring or something that looks more like real wood? Do you care more about the feel underfoot or the lifespan of your new floors? Use this guide to help weigh the pros and cons when choosing between vinyl and laminate flooring. These tips should help you to make an informed decision and improve the appearance and value of your home.